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A selection of inspiring stories about the mitzvah of tefillin.

Tefillin Stories

Tefillin Stories

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He was standing with his huge prayer shawl, his tallis, draped over his head, with his tefillin strapped to his head and arm when a sweet-faced little girl skipped up to him and asked plainly: “What are you doing?”
"Where are there computers in the Torah?" Without hesitation the Rebbe answered, "Tefillin." The professor was perplexed
"Tell me, Rabbi," he called out anxiously, "if... if I put on tefillin, will G-d protect me?"
How tefillin saved a person's life again and again -- during the Holocaust and in its immediate aftermath.
"This was all good and well," explained the old navy diver, "when the ship had been under for a month or so. After that it would begin to rust and the hooks would bring up only huge chunks of iron, leaving the rest of the ship behind"
In his reply the Rebbe wrote: “Do you think it is right that a Jew who put on tefillin yesterday for the first time in over twenty years should wait another six weeks for you to buy him a pair of tefillin?”
"That day the pitcher lost the game. But he won the World Series, and on his table were the tefillin," concluded the Rebbe. "In the end, he will give to them merit by putting them on"
The Germans often remarked to the Jews, “Why don't you commit suicide . . . ?”
Then with great effort he sat up in bed, took my hand, and said, "I have one very important last request to make of you." Tears flowed from his eyes...
Imprinted forever on the leather straps are lively testimonies to the spirit of the Jewish people. His hands have cast fingerprints that tell thousands of stories. This pair of tefillin is one of a kind – it vibrates with laughter and tears, and years of reviving souls around the world.
I was walking on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, California, when a Chabad rabbinical student asked me to put on tefillin. I blew up. I yelled at him, "You rotten Jew! You just embarrassed me in public." And I stormed away angrily.
"Go find someone else to bother," he shot back at me. "I want nothing to do with you!" My head was spinning; I was hurt inside, yet knew I had done nothing disrespectful. Obviously, what I represent—being a religious Jew, wearing a beard and a kippah on my head— upset him so.
While I was deployed to Iraq, a lone Jewish Marine Corps Officer among hundreds of Iraqi soldiers in a remote region of the Syrian border, I had to live with keeping my religious identity to myself. I couldn't even have "Jewish" on my dog-tags
I wanted a set of tefillin, the black ritual boxes donned on weekdays. I wanted to feel the binding on my arm and the weight of the tefillin on my head. I wanted to be reminded that G‑d is above me. But at Nahal Yam there were no tefillin.
The Rebbe had called for an intensification of the campaign to get Jewish men to put on tefillin. I thought of taking advantage of the regional B'nai Brith Youth Convention. What a statement that would be — close to two hundred B'nai Brith boys performing the mitzvah of tefillin! But could it be done?
I had been a seeker for many years by the time I knocked on the door of Lubavitch House...
The rabbi finally got me to agree that I would put on tefillin at least once in my lifetime. I went home and never kept my end of the deal - I never put on a pair of tefilin...
"When a Jew in Miami," the Rebbe said to me, "sees pictures of Jews at the Western Wall wearing tefillin, he gets an urge to put on tefillin himself."
It is amazing how, in one heartbeat, a good day can turn tragic, or a bad day can turn miraculous.
I was at my father’s side in the empty prep room. The room was silent; just the two of us. Suddenly—this could happen only in Israel—someone swung open the door and jabbed his head in. “I’m looking for my friend . . .”
I suppose every twenty-year-old should have an eighty-eight-year-old friend
The death of a thousand cuts would have been preferable. I briefly considered crawling, until I realized that everyone would be able to see me anyway.
He told me that I hadn't come to Las Vegas to sell playpens...
I started to pray every day in the only way one can do such a thing: religiously.
As I turned to walk away, he announced, "Wait a minute! I got more Jewish stuff too!" Then he said,"This is special," he grinned, "no?"
Almost in tears, I apologized to G-d and admitted that I just couldn't get myself to wear my tallit and tefillin in public.
Have you ever strolled on a college campus on a Saturday at eight in the morning? No one is around, no one is up. But I was—because I wasn’t going to get trapped into joining the minyan.
An Israeli public figure who couldn’t refuse a request to put on tefillin, and the emotional chain of events that followed . . .
Take a few minutes to record your own personal experience of putting on Tefillin or your personal inspiration for putting on Tefillin.
“When was the last time you put on tefillin?” I asked. He smiled and proudly said, “72 years ago!” He held out his arm to show me the fading tattooed numbers. “1938. It was the day of Kristallnacht. Do you know what Kristallnacht is?”
He looks so strong in his tallit and tefillin, with the determination of a man prepared to fight, yet with the resignation of one discovering that his life is not in his control.